For Dilpreet Singh Bindra, director of catering sales in Taj Palace, Delhi, meeting Karambir Kang, who lost his family in the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26, 2008, was a poignant experience.
Inspired by Kang’s stoic heroism, which ensured the safety of guests at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel on the three harrowing nights, the 34-year-old Bindra decided to undertake a cross-country road journey which he dubbed, ‘One India, One Taj’.
Last week, at the conclusion of his journey, Bindra presented three books filled with messages from employees of 60 Taj hotel properties across 42 Indian cities, to Kang which expressed solidarity with the victims of 26/11 terror attacks.
Bindra had driven for 33 days, clocking 13,150 kms on his Ford Fusion on his trip. When he set off, he equipped himself with a GPS system, detailed road maps and all the necessary contact numbers he could think of. But he soon realised they weren’t needed.
“Wherever you go in India, all you need to do is roll down the glass in the car, smile and ask any passerby for directions. You will get detailed instructions in addition to tips on the shortest route to get to your destination,” says Bindra.
At nightfall he’d stop at a Taj hotel and next morning travel to his next destination, taking along with him an employee of the hotel he’d stayed at. It was a great way to bond with the local staff, he found. En route, he was questioned by curious citizens at dhabas and at petrol pumps, on his mission. “It was heartening to know how every one I met was in favour of peace and harmony in the country.”
Once, on his way from Bandhavgarh to Lucknow, Bindra and his companion encountered robbers who asked them to hand over their wallets. “When they learnt that I was on a peace mission, they let me go,” says the still incredulous Bindra.
Then again, some 150 kms before Jaipur, his car had a flat and the jack broke. “Some people got together and physically lifted the car so that I could change the tyre. I had a taste of Rajasthan’s hospitality much before I entered the state,” he recalls.
Overwhelmed by his experiences, Bindra has re-coined ‘Incredible India’ as ‘Incredible India via incredible Taj and incredible roads of India’.